By Gigi Allen
The Roar (Leander, Texas)
A topic close to my heart has crept its ways into the classrooms in school. Dress code. It is a topic that is brushed away with words like “oh, you’re just complaining,” “why are you arguing for the right to dress slutty,” and “just follow the rules, it’s easy.” But this issue is not just about dress code.
This issue is not just about my right to wear tank tops and shorts. It also is not fighting for rights that are meaningless like to let my butt hang out of my clothes. No one is fighting for that. The reason why fire enters some girl’s eyes when the topic comes up, the reason why there is such a fuss about it is because this is me, us, women, fighting for the right to not be sexualized with targeted comments.
I recently heard a story of a girl who stood up during the class meeting to fight against a comment that was made, a comment that compared the school to KFC and the female students to pieces of meat. The dress code is not the problem. The problem is enforcing it by telling young ladies to protect themselves fro m danger by not “dressing to entice it”. Some people tell me that the dress code isn’t enforced with sexist standards. What I want to know is why when a dress code sweep went throughout the school, it was mostly girls standing in class, being inspected, looked at and prodded like cattle up for sale.
“This is a no distraction zone,” was once said to me by an authoritative figure. As if we asked for society to deem our bodies as a distraction.
Asked to have breasts that annoy us when we go down stairs, or thick thighs that make normal shorts look tight and pulled up. Like we asked for our bodies, which American society is already telling us isn’t skinny enough, to be condemned for filling out a pair of leggings.
When we are told in front of everyone that our shirts show too much, that our bra straps should not be seen, because the thought of a bra leads to the distraction of our male counterparts, when we are pulled out of class and walked to ISS, condemned for trying to wear something cool while the Texas sun shines down on us as unforgiving as the eyes of society, it ruins any confidence we had built for ourselves that day.
When we are laughed at for bringing up the topic of dress code and told by some of our teachers that they dress not to stand out, it makes us feel that to “stand out” is to be slutty, that to show our bodies is a grave offense. It makes me feel like my thighs, my back, my legs, my stomach, are all people see.
That it matters what I wear because how I do in school, or how many times my hand proudly goes up does not override how many times my shirt’s hem line goes up. That what is in my leggings, too tight over my thighs, is more important than what’s in my head.
Yea… because we asked for this.
We asked for words and culture blind eyes to make us go home, a day of learning wasted, and to cry because we think we are sluts now for wearing a tank top where our bra straps show. We condemn our bodies and second-guess our choices, now only worried about how we look to others instead of how we look to ourselves.
Instead of being proud of our curves, of knowing our learning is just as important and that men don’t believe they deserve more, but society tells us they do, that men can control themselves when they see skin, but society tell us they can’t, we now live in fear. Fearing that if we don’t wear baggy clothing, but don’t look like slobs, that we will be responsible if we are attacked. Fearing that if we speak too loud, we will be shamed.
This fight is not just about a dress code.
This fight is so our daughters will not be taught that they are inferior, instead they will be taught to know they are worthy of being noticed. Of speaking up. Of dressing in what makes them comfortable, confident, in control. Of knowing they are safe. This is a fight not for abolishing the dress code but for changing how it is enforced, changing how it makes young ladies feel inside. That is what this fight is for. That is what I am fighting for.
Condemn me, silence my voice, try to make me feel uncomfortable in my skin. I have a mother who tells me I’m worthy of being noticed. I have friends who tell me I am worthy of loving myself. I have mentors who tell me I am worthy of speaking up. My voice will not stop, till every girl knows the same thing. That you are worthy. Do not let an inappropriately enforced dress code tell you otherwise.
So yeah, this fight is not just about dress code.
Photo Credit: The Roar